“With this kind of emphatic drubbing, the Lions have firmly planted themselves within a small circle of NFL teams capable of winning the Super Bowl,” Connor Orr, Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback.
It’s time to embrace the words from Voice of the Detroit Lions, Dan Miller, and start getting comfortable being uncomfortable, because with every victory, the expectations for the franchise rise up a level.
The Lions currently sit at 4-1 on the season, hold a two-and-half-game lead in the division, and are proving that they can stack points on the board, even when they’re missing two of their most explosive offensive weapons. On defense, they’re creating turnovers, preventing big plays, and have yet to allow a team to rush for 100 yards.
That team balance shows up in all phases and can be fully appreciated through a variety of advanced metrics, like DVOA. Currently, the Lions are the only team to rank in the top 10 in every significant DVOA category.
Overall Team: 3
Passing offense: 4
Rushing offense: 5
Passing defense: 8
Rushing defense: 4
Let’s take a look at how the Lions' win over the Panthers altered the national writers’ NFL power rankings in Week 6.
USA Today: 3 (Last week: 5)
“For all the focus on rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, it’s veteran RB David Montgomery who’s fueled a ground game with more rushes than any team in the league save two. Sunday, Montgomery became the first Detroit rusher to top 100 yards in consecutive games since … Kevin Jones in 2004.”
MMQB: 4 (Last week: 6)
“With this kind of emphatic drubbing, the Lions have firmly planted themselves within a small circle of NFL teams capable of winning the Super Bowl. While this isn’t a bold statement, it is kind of an acknowledgement of a sample size. Their weapon set is deep and only getting better. Defensively, the amount of schematic work it took for the Panthers to finally log their first touchdown a few minutes into the second quarter was exhausting. The Lions can get on you fast, and can also keep you pinned on the ground.”
The Athletic: 4 (Last week: 7)
“Second-round tight end Sam LaPorta is one of the best rookies in the league and a big reason the Lions are fourth in the league in scoring (29.6). LaPorta leads all tight ends with 25 catches for 289 yards. Throw in the fact that running back Jahmyr Gibbs has shown flashes and second-round safety Brian Branch might be a star, and Detroit is in the running for the best draft of 2023, not to mention the third-best team in the NFC.”
Sporting News: 5 (Last week: 6)
“The Lions have proved they are for real several times over, starting with their season-opening win at Kansas City. They dominate up front offensively with the running game, for which the Panthers were not a match. Their young defense is making the needed big plays when outcomes are in doubt, too.”
NFL.com: 5 (Last week: 7)
“The Lions dropped 42 on the Panthers without Amon-Ra St. Brown or Jahmyr Gibbs (and others), which only enhances what they’ve accomplished through Week 5. Even though it came against winless Carolina, this victory shouldn’t be overlooked. Good teams take care of business against lesser teams. Doing so convincingly despite the absence of key contributors on both sides of the ball is the hallmark of a great team. It’s OK to say it aloud — the Lions are now in that category. They’ve won 12 of 15 games dating back to 2022, triumphing at Arrowhead and Lambeau this season and becoming the clear-cut NFC North faves. Even with defensive injuries mounting — poor Emmanuel Moseley is the latest, having suffered a second torn ACL in as many years — the Lions have a great chance to end a 32-year playoff-win drought.”
ESPN: 5 (Last week: 8)
“Fantasy surprise: WR Josh Reynolds
“Reynolds has quietly been one of the steadiest offensive weapons for the Lions, with the second most receiving yards (291) and third-most targets (24) through the first five games. He also has three receiving touchdowns, and the connection with Lions QB Jared Goff dates back to their early years of playing together for the Rams. More notable names like Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs — and even Goff — were top fantasy picks for Detroit entering the year, but Reynolds has certainly started strong.”
CBS Sports: 5 (Last week: 9)
“They face a tough road game against Tampa against the Buccaneers this week. This team is for real at 4-1 under Dan Campbell.”
Touchdown Wire: 6 (Last week: 6)
No explanation was given.
Yahoo Sports: 6 (Last week: 7)
“The Lions have entered the tier of teams that can be without offensive standouts like Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs and it doesn’t matter. Also, we’re soon going to have to talk about Aidan Hutchinson as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate.”
The Ringer: 6 (Last week: 8)
“Lions fans came into this season with an unfamiliar feeling: a sense that their team would be good. And guess what? They are good! Ben Johnson has proved to be a difference-making offensive coordinator, consistently scheming up explosive plays and putting Jared Goff in positions to succeed. But the bigger surprise is the Lions defense, which has looked considerably better than last year’s group. Any conversation about a sleeper who could make noise in the NFC playoffs has to include the Lions, who are favorites to win the division.”
Pro Football Network: 6 (Last week: 9)
“Aidan Hutchinson always should have been the top pick in his draft class, and he’s proving it more and more as each week flies by. His interception of Bryce Young was magnificent, and he’s been one of the league’s best pass rushers so far in 2023.
“The Lions defense appears to have turned the corner from last season, and while the offense hasn’t been quite as impressive as last year, it is still one of the most efficient units in the NFL.”